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Hundreds of students at Cottonwood’s Mountain View Preparatory vowed to make the world a kinder place Tuesday, Nov. 15.Full of energy and charisma, “Kindness Ninja” Brian Williams has the students of Mountain View Prep cheering with excitement while searching for the kindest school in America, on Nov. 15. Williams came to Mountain View Prep to challenge the school to a niceness competition, in which West Sedona School and Big Park Community School were also taking part.

In concert with local group SedonaKind, MVP hosted Think Kindness founder, Brian Williams, a self-described “Kindness Ninja” — a man who came prepared not only with a t-shirt proclaiming the title, but a fourth-degree back belt. A nationally recognized kindness advocate, Williams promotes kindness in schools and communities, engaging people in an effort to improve lives and reduce bullying.

Cottonwood’s Georgie’s Cafe has been inviting diners in for a free full-course Thanksgiving meal for two decades.The Old Town Mission General Manager Kellie Wilson, Director of Maintenance Billy Rodriguez, Grocery Rescue Agent William Woodruff and Assistant General Manager Jill Marie Sweet, from left, will be among the staff holding a Community Thanksgiving Brunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23, at their location in Cottonwood. The mission will also distribute turkey dinners on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

This year, it’ll be business as usual. On Thursday, Nov. 24, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Georgie’s staff — yes, every single one of them — will be on hand to serve the communities of the Verde Valley.

It’s easy to imagine help in the form of the basics: Shelter, food or medical intervention.

But, as Canadian national and part-time Rimrock resident Colleen Baldwin proves, items that we take for granted — items that are easy to dismiss as frivolous — have the power to change lives. As part of the grassroots Purses of Hope effort, last holiday season she began gathering and helping to distribute used purses, each filled with everyday essential items for women, throughout the Verde Valley.

The city of Cottonwood Verde Valley Military Service Park unveiled phase one of its planned installation on Veterans Day, Friday, Nov. 11.Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens stood next to Verde Valley Military Service Park Committee Chairman Ronald Luce at the flag-raising ceremony of the park, thanking everyone who made the project possible. The unveiling took place on Veterans Day, Friday, Nov. 11. It was also one of Joens’ final acts as mayor as she is set to step down at the next council meeting.

Located adjacent to the Yavapai County Government Cottonwood Annex building, 10 S. Sixth St., the site now features a 70-foot central flagpole with a 12-by-18-foot U.S. flag surrounded by five 30-foot poles with 5-by-8-foot service flags. The park recognizes residents of the Verde Valley who have honorably served in the five branches of U.S. military.

The benefits of active and community-engaged career and technology education programs are innumerable, according to Valley Academy for Career and Technology Education Superintendent Bob Weir.High school students in Valley Academy for Career and Technology Education’s fire science certification program get hands-on experience fighting training fires. According to VACTE Superintendent Bob Weir, graduates often come out of high school and enter the firefighting field earning between $40,000 to $60,000 per year.

In his position since July, Weir said that VACTE has already taken major steps forward in promoting itself to eighth-graders and high school students throughout Sedona and the Verde Valley. Recently, Weir directed a survey sent out to eighth graders in Camp Verde, Cottonwood and Sedona to determine what CTE programs they would most like to see offered through VACTE.

According to Yavapai College adjunct instructor and former victim advocate Erin Whitesitt, domestic violence amounts to a public health epidemic.Yavapai College adjunct instructor and former victim advocate Erin Whitesitt gave a lecture on domestic violence as a public health issue during Yavapai College’s Public Health Symposium.

“This is a problem that really affects us all,” Whitesitt, who teaches a course on domestic violence at Yavapai College and others at Northern Arizona University, said in her address, Domestic Violence as a Public Health Issue. “The impact on public health cannot be overstated.”

During a recent interview, Cottonwood City Council member and recent mayoral candidate Terence Pratt noted that only a decade ago the revival of Old Town seemed a far off concept — a goal he and many others were working toward without knowing if their efforts would pay off.Walkin on Main 2015

A decade later, a visitor could be forgiven for assuming that the avenue has always been the way it is: A bustling downtown area regularly featured in state and national media “Best Of” lists. According to Cottonwood Community Development Manager Berrin Nejad, every storefront is currently occupied. What few buildings are vacated are rapidly rented. What open space exists is quickly being used.

Less than half an hour into the Yavapai College District Governing Board meeting Nov. 1, at Yavapai College’s Sedona Center, board member Al Filardo exited the building — but not before laying out a long list of criticisms.Al Filardo

“I’d like to share with you an analysis of what I have learned during my tenure,” Filardo began. “While I’ve had a feeling this day would come, I had hoped to complete my term. That is no longer possible. To put it simply, I am resigning effective Dec. 1 because the actions taken by the majority of the YCDGB don’t align with either my guiding principles or my sense of what is right.”

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